One of the interests of the Reading Club has been, right from the very beginning, the city of Barcelona, not only because it is one of the Picassian cities par excellence, but also because a major part of the art of the 20th century was created, based on, or as a reflection around, the urban experience. The city, however, can’t be reflected on easily: it requires new forms, new outlines, new words and new ways of combining these words. Barcelona Secret Museum, by Vidal-Folch, proposes an audacious solution to the difficulty of speaking about a city that is unattainable by definition.
The book includes more than one hundred relatively short texts, which Vida-Folch published in the newspapers, and which draw a sort of mental map of the author. In the club he explains it as a solution to the lack of effective adventure in the relatively comfortable way of life of the Barcelona middle class: precisely as we barely live this type of adventure, it could be more interesting to explore our mental life. The meanders of this mental life are what feed the book and what help us to discover a secret Barcelona behind the apparent Barcelona.
The eyes of the owl of the Diagonal with Passeig Sant Joan
In this way, Vidal-Folch finds the island of the dead in the monument to Jacint Verdaguer, hypothetically discarded scenes of David Lynch in the halls of the buildings of the nineteen seventies and the destiny of the Great Gatsby in the eyes of the owl of the Diagonal with Passeig Sant Joan. The book of Vidal-Folch is a book with an aura. Walter Benjamin defines the aura as the manifestation of a distance, for the closeness that a thing can be that is being manifested. The small mental adventures of Vidal-Folch work on revealing the distance in the most everyday proximity, so as to de-automate the city, that is to say, to make something strange, that by dint of its regular use, and by habit, we have turned it into something familiar, and we no longer look at it. The book, therefore, gives us back the vision of the city in a way that, as we insisted again and again in the session, has something irreversible: we no longer see it in the same way. It could be that this is the definitive adventure that the reading of Barcelona Secret Museum proposes to us, and that it is a project like an open work, unfinished. There wasn’t anybody who didn’t propose adding some corner, some object, some passage to the magnificent cabinet of curiosity of Vidal-Folch. After an hour and a half of discussion, Barcelona imposed itself victoriously, inexhaustible.
Reading Club of the Museu Picasso